Your review copy will be presented to
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Bridges: The Legacy of Othmar H. Ammann
Darl Rastorfer '74
University Press, 2000
by Mavis Clark
you have ever entered the Manhattan area by way of any
of the six majestic bridges -- the George Washington,
the Verrazano-Narrows, the Bronx-Whitestone, the Triborough,
the Throgs Neck, or the Bayonne--then you already know
something about Othmar H. Ammann, the Swiss genius who
designed them all.
immigrant who came to America in 1904 at age 25, Ammann,
supremely modest and self-effacing, lived for most of
his career in New Jersey. His designs, which also include
the Lincoln Tunnel and the Golden Gate Bridge, combine
aesthetic qualities with great technical sophistication.
The George Washington Bridge concept, based on the deflection
theory which uses the bridge's weight to stabilize the
structure, had never before been applied to a suspension
bridge of 3,500 feet--twice the length of any previous
considered the greatest American bridge designer of the
20th century, Ammann gained his experience designing railroad
bridges in Pennsylvania before beginning his work in New
York City. He managed to produce all six major bridges between
1925 and 1964, and this book documents the construction
of each one in 200 large, clear, black-and-white photographs
and design drawings. The images of the "coffee-table"-sized
book clarify the artistic aspects of the bridges and commemorate
acquainted with the man behind the bridges was not easy.
Ammann had a great deal to say about engineering, but
very little to say about himself, according to the author.
"It was only when Ammann's daughter came forth with boxes
of her father's personal letters that the man was transformed
into a living, breathing character," Rastorfer recalls.
"Just as there is much to admire in Othmar H. Ammann's
extraordinary engineering work, there is much to admire
in the man."
Rastorfer is director of projects for Design
Arts, Inc., a New York-based nonprofit
educational organization, and is the curator of the Cooper
Hewitt Museum exhibition "Six Bridges: The Making of the
New York Megalopolis," which is showing in galleries
throughout the country. Rastorfer's next book about suspension
bridges for young adults was sold to Oxford University Press.